Yellow Roses and Ice Cream

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By Makena Clawson

I can’t do much. And realizing this actually brings me peace.

I worry, wring my hands, pace around the room and eat ice cream when I’m stressed. (Mostly the ice cream one – I have my spoon in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s peanut butter cup right now.)

Working with our friends experiencing homelessness can be stressful. Their burdens become our burdens, their pain becomes our pain. How do I sleep comfortably at night when so many of my friends are freezing on cold pavement or stuck on a mat at a shelter with someone an inch away on both sides?

Recently, I’ve been getting to know a young homeless woman who is pregnant. We work with multiple pregnant women, but this one is close to me in age and we’ve formed a close friendship ever since she trusted me enough to tell me she’s expecting.

I was working with this woman to get her into a temporary shelter while she looked for more permanent housing. She agreed, there was a place in the shelter and everything was lining up. But one small problem. She wanted to spend one last night on the street. I tried to convince her, but her mind was made.

This wasn’t any normal night, but happened to be the night the first big snow of the year was set to come in. My fellow missionaries were excited about the first snow and the office buzzed with talk of the airport canceling flights, all as my heart sank lower and lower.

Could I have tried harder to convince her to go inside tonight? Should we go downtown and look for her? What if it gets so cold and she loses the baby? What more could I have done?

These questions all swirled through my head like the first snowflakes hitting the ground. I was preoccupied all evening. Sure, I gave it over to God (or at least thought I did) and prayed for him to take care of her. But I still felt like I wasn’t doing enough.

As we filed into the chapel for night prayer, I looked up towards the altar and saw a large vase full of yellow roses. Yellow roses are significant because three years ago, someone told me about how they asked God for a sign their prayers for unborn children were effective and saw yellow roses as reassurance that their prayers were heard. Yellow roses had become a special sign for me too after praying for the unborn.

I fell to my knees and realized how selfish I’d been. This homeless friend and her unborn child belong to God, not me. She is his daughter and not mine. He loves her more than I ever could. Why had I been worried, anxious and stress eating instead of handing her over to him with trust and peace?

The yellow roses reminded me that he is taking care of her and her child. That she is in his hands and not mine. Maybe he’ll use me as an instrument in helping her occasionally, but she belongs to him.

I saw my friend the next day doing well. She is now in the shelter and there’s a yellow rose bush outside with blossoms still alive even after several snows.

Makena Clawson is a first-year missionary and recent graduate of Benedictine College. She wishes the whole world loved Jesus, speaking in Spanish, and Nancy Drew as much as she does.